KANSAS CITY – Summer menus are heating up the restaurant industry, and the season-specific associations aren’t just tied to certain ingredients anymore.
Seasonal ingredient claims have decreased between 2012 and 2015, while seasonal menu item claims have increased, according to a new report from Mintel. The shift indicates the growing popularity of ingredients that can’t be pinpointed to a specific season, Mintel said, so dishes themselves create a seasonal focus. For example, an ingredient grown throughout the year may appear in a soup during the winter and a salad during the summer.
“Seasonal ingredients still remain a very important aspect of dishes,” Mintel said. “However, as the definition of seasonal ingredients continues to shift, the dish itself is where restaurants are promoting seasonal cues.”
Starbucks is serving up summer flavors in a frosty format with its new Granitas, headlining the coffee chain’s Sunset Menu, which is available after 3 p.m.. The shaved iced beverages are available in Teavana Youthberry White Tea, Caramel Espresso and Strawberry Lemon Limeade varieties.
“We wanted something that was cool, but light,” said Michelle Sundquist from Starbucks’ beverage development team. “Our Sunset Menu is a refreshing way to jump-start your evening and take you into a long summer night.”
Bringing the summer sensation of the ocean to the dinner table, Red Lobster is launching its Lobster & Shrimp Summerfest menu. The lineup includes Loangostino Lobster and Shrimp Caprese Pasta, Grilled Lobster and Red Shrimp, and Homemade Berry Shore-Cake.
“Summer is all about exploring and trying new things, so we wanted to offer guests different types of lobster and shrimp prepared in ways that capture the tastes of the season,” said Heidi Lane, senior chef at Red Lobster.
IHOP is taking taste buds on a tropical summer vacation with its new line of Paradise Pancakes, featuring Strawberry Passion Fruit, Banana Macadamia Nut and Pineapple Upside Down varieties.
"Paradise Pancakes are the perfect way for families and friends to take a bite into summer via a flavor flight to an island adventure," said Kirk Thompson, senior vice-president of marketing for IHOP. "Our taste of the tropics shines brightly as we bring the season of fun and sun into our restaurants and onto your plate!"
At Bruegger’s Bagels, summer sandwiches are the highlight of the season. For breakfast, the chain is launching the Mediterranean Sunrise sandwich and, for lunch, the Greek Goddess sandwich.
"Our summer sandwiches, featuring cool cucumber and tangy feta, bring the bright, refreshing flavors of summer to our menu in an innovative way," said Judy Kadylak, vice-president of marketing for Bruegger's Bagels.
Newk’s Eatery’s new summer menu offers iconic summer flavors in new formats. The chain is offering four new fresh salads, a new sandwich and a new pizza all boasting seasonal vegetables and flavors.
“Newk’s summer menu this year involves a few firsts for us,” said Alan Wright, chief marketing officer for Newk’s. “Grilled vegetables, imported Prosciutto di Parma and a round of new salad options are new to our restaurants and fall in line with the season’s food trends calling for fresh, grilled and savory flavors reminiscent of summer cookouts and meals straight from the farmer’s market.”Click for a slideshow of new menu items.